CLEAR 2015 Webinar Series

Natural Resources Conservation Academy (NRCA): Getting Young Scientists Involved in Local Environmental Projects that Benefit CT Communities

Running Time: 00:50:55


UConn's Natural Resources Conservation Academy (NRCA) is a new transformative program that engages high school students in land use and natural resource conservation in an exciting and meaningful way for the student that is beneficial to our communities and environment. Each year ~24 students participate in a weeklong field experience at UConn, where they learn from UConn faculty and students as well as other environmental professionals about the natural world in a land use context. Afterwards, the students apply their skills during a seven-month conservation-focused project addressing local environmental issues in their own community under the mentorship of a community partner (e.g. local planners, decision-makers, scientists, environmental professionals on land trusts and conservation/wetland commissions). To date, 53 community projects have been completed or are currently being conducted throughout Connecticut by our NRCA students. These projects have proven to be not only beneficial to the students but to their community partners and communities. During this webinar, we will provide a brief background on the NRCA and discuss examples of NRCA projects conducted throughout the state, successful community partnerships, and the potential benefits of partnering with the NRCA.


John Volin

John Volin

Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Office of the Provost & Professor of Natural Resources, Department of Natural Resources & the Environment
(860) 486-0137

John Volin is the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and a Professor of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Connecticut. John received his Ph.D. in forestry, specializing in physiological ecology, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also did a postdoctoral fellowship. Before joining UConn, he was Professor and Chair of Biological Sciences as well as Director of the Environmental Sciences Program at Florida Atlantic University. John has conducted research in ecosystems around the world, focusing on invasive species and restoration ecology. He has been awarded more than $23M in extramural funding for both research and foundational activities. Previously at UConn, John served as Head of the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, Director of the interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences Program, and the Associate Director of the Eversource Energy Center. John also founded and directed the Natural Resources Conservation Academy, a new program in conservation and land use planning targeted at high school students, which is designed to help educate the next generation of environmental leaders.

Laura Cisneros

Laura Cisneros

Program Coordinator & Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Natural Resources and the Environment
(860) 486-4917

Laura Cisneros is the Program Coordinator of Natural Resources Conservation Academy (NRCA) and a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at UConn. She received her B.S. in Zoology at Michigan State University and her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UConn. Her research and teaching interests focus on understanding how human activities affect ecological communities and using this understanding to inform students and citizens about the intimate role that humans play in global sustainability. Laura's Ph.D. research explored the effects of human-modified landscapes on bat communities, and identified landscape characteristics that promote biodiversity and vital services provided by bats (e.g. pollination, seed dispersal). Currently, Laura's efforts are focused on integrating research with community outreach as the coordinator of the Natural Resources Conservation Academy.